The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Protys

556

PROTOGENES.

it formed part of the rich collection in the temple of Peace. Suiclas (s. v.) mentions the picture as a strange and wonderful work, but appears to have mistaken the hero I.alysus for Dionysus (the read­ing however is doubtful).

His next most famous picture was that which Pliny tells us he painted during the siege of Rhodes, and to which, from that circumstance, a peculiar interest was attached (/Sequiturque tabulam ejus temporis hciec fama, quod earn Protogenes sub gladio pinxerit). Its subject was a satyr resting (quern Anapauomenon vacant), and still holding the pipes ; a subject strikingly similar to the celebrated Satyr of Praxiteles, though, of course, treated dif­ferently in the two different departments of art= This picture was still at Rhodes in the time of Strabo, who mentions it and the lalysus, and the Colossus, as the most remarkable objects at that place (/. c.). The Satyr (Strabo tells us) was leaning against a column, upon which the artist had origi­nally painted a partridge sitting ; but the people, who flocked to see the picture, were so struck with the perfectly natural appearance of the bird that they entirely overlooked the principal figure ; and, to make matters worse, the bird-keepers brought tame partridges, which were no sooner placed opposite the picture than they began to chirp at the painted bird, thinking it alive, to the unbounded delight of the multitude. On this, Protogenes, feeling that his labour was lost (6p£v ro epyov irdpepyov y£-yovos), obtained permission from the keepers of the temple, and obliterated the partridge from the picture.

Another celebrated work of Protogenes was that in the Propylaea of the Acropolis of Athens, which Pliny thus describes: nobilem Par alum et Am-moniada, qua/in quidain Nausicaam vacant. The Paralus, as is well known, was one of the two sacred ships of the Athenians, to which, at a later period, three more were added, of which one was the Ammonias, that is, the vessel in which offerings were sent to Jupiter Ammon. . Thus much is clear ; but how these vessels were represented, whether each formed a separate picture, or the two were combined in one composition, and what we are to understand by the phrase, quam quidam Nausicaam vacant, that is, what the ship Ammo­nias (or the picture of both ships) had to do with Nausicaa and the island of the Phaeacians,—are questions extremely difficult to solve. Pausanias, indeed, tells us (i. 22. § 6) that one of the paintings in the Propylaea represented Nausicaa and her maidens bathing, with Ulysses near them, as de­scribed by Homer (Od. vi. init.) ; but he ascribes the picture to Polygnotus, and says not a word of the sacred ships. The only escape yet suggested from this labyrinth of confusion, is by following the clue furnished by the conjecture of Ottfried Miiller (Arch. d. Kunst, Nachtr'dge, p. 707,2d ed.), that, instead of carrying on the nominative IIoAtf-7J/WTOS in the passage of Pausanias, we should insert Tlpwroyevys after eypafye 5e fcal, so as to make him, and not Polygnotus, the painter of the picture which Pausanias describes as that of Nau­sicaa ; and further, that the very subject of the painting was disputed among the ancients them­selves, " some," as Pliny says, " taking it for Nau­sicaa,1' among whom was Pausanias ; and others, of whom Pliny himself was one, regarding it as the representation of some harbour, into which the ships Paralus and Ammonias were sailing. Accord- [

PROTYS.

ing to this view the group which Pausanias took for Nausicaa and her companions may be explained as a group of maidens celebrating the festival of the god to whom the sacred vessels are bringing their offerings. This painting is also mentioned by Cicero, like the lalysus, as one of the greatest works in existence, but he does not mention the artist's name (in Verr. I. c.). Pliny tells us that Proto­genes, in memory of his former circumstances, added to this picture some little ships of war, as additional ornaments or bordering (par ergo).

Another picture, which Protogenes painted at Athens, was that of the Thesmothetae, in the senate-house of the Five Hundred (Paus. i. 3. § 4).

The other works of Protogenes, in the list of Pliny, are Cydippe, Tlepolemus, the tragic poet Philiscus meditating [Pmuscus], an athlete, king Antigonus, and the mother of Aristotle. Pliny adds that the great philosopher advised the artist to paint Alexander " pi'opter aeternitatem rerum ,•" but that his own taste and the impulse of his genius carried him to other subjects, so that there was only one of his pictures, and that the last, in which the Macedonian conqueror appeared: this composition is called by Pliny Alexander and Pan.

In the enumeration of his works, that celebrated panel must not be forgotten, which, in its three simple lines, presented the memorial of the cele­brated contest between Apelles and Protogenes, and excited more admiration than the j^reat works of art near which it was preserved at Rome. To what has been said on this subject under apelles, it need only be added that the words of Pliny, who had seen the picture (and that, no doubt, re­peatedly). evidently describe mere lines drawn right across the panel (per tabulam} ; and even writers who object to such a display, as not even within the province of painting, and who seek for other ingenious and elaborate interpretations (such as that the three lines were three outlines of figures or limbs), are found to admit, not only that the notion of their being three simple lines is the only one countenanced by the text of Pliny (who, we repeat, saw the picture), but also that this feat, though merely manual, was all the greater and more wonderful, on account of their being mere lines of excessive thinness, the one within the other, from the extraordinary command of the instrument, and precision of eye and hand which such a feat supposes. Let it be remembered also, how great was the importance which the ancients rightly attached to accurate drawing ; and, we would add, let those who sneer at the performance attempt to reproduce it.

Protogenes excelled also as a statuary (Plin. /. c.), though none of his works are individually specified : Pliny only mentions him among the artists who made, in bronze, athletas et armatos et venatores sa~ cri/icantesque (H. N. xxxiv. 8, 19. § 34).

/cat

According to Suidas, Protogenes wrote two works on art, namely, Tlepl

2. A freedman in the family of Augustus, was an artist in gold and silver. (Bianchini, Sepolcro de* Servi, n. 191 ; R. Rochette, Lettre a M. Schorn, p. 394.) [P. S.]

PROTYS, an artist of the Graeco-Roman period, whose name is known by an inscription on the base of a piece of sculpture, representing four figures placed back to back, which was found in Uppei

Pages
About | First

554

555

556
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.